Joan Van Ark

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Joan Van Ark
Joan Van Ark2007.jpg
Joan Van Ark, June 2008
BornJoan Van Ark
(1943-06-16) June 16, 1943 (age 71)
New York City, New York U.S.
Years active1963 - present
Spouse(s)John Marshall (February 1, 1966-present); 1 child
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Joan Van Ark
Joan Van Ark2007.jpg
Joan Van Ark, June 2008
BornJoan Van Ark
(1943-06-16) June 16, 1943 (age 71)
New York City, New York U.S.
Years active1963 - present
Spouse(s)John Marshall (February 1, 1966-present); 1 child

Joan Van Ark (born June 16, 1943)[1] is an American actress, most notable for her role as Valene Ewing in the primetime soap opera Knots Landing. A life member of The Actors Studio,[2] she has also received a Theatre World Award and been nominated for a Tony Award for her stage work.[3]

Van Ark began her professional stage career in 1963 at the Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis, appearing in The Miser and Death of a Salesman. She made her Broadway debut in 1966 in Barefoot in the Park and received a Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Play in 1971 for The School for Wives.

She landed her most famous role of Valene Ewing in 1978, first on the CBS series Dallas, then for thirteen seasons on its spin-off Knots Landing (1979-1992). For this role, she twice won the Soap Opera Digest Award for Best Actress, in 1986 and 1989. She left the show in 1992, although she did return for the final episode of the series in 1993 and for the 1997 miniseries Knots Landing: Back to the Cul-de-Sac. In 1985, she received a Daytime Emmy Award nomination as host of the Tournament of Roses Parade on CBS. From 2004-2005, she starred in the soap opera The Young And the Restless. She reprised her role of Valene in an episode of the new Dallas series in 2013.

Early life[edit]

Van Ark was born in New York City, the daughter of Dorothy Jean (née Hemenway), a writer, and Carroll Van Ark (born 1897, Holland, Michigan – died 1972), who worked in advertising and public relations.[4][5] Her paternal great-grandfather was an immigrant from the Netherlands.[6] Both of her parents were writers.[7] She grew up in Boulder, Colorado, with three siblings: Carol (a writer), Mark and Dexter.

At age 15, as a student reporter, Van Ark met and interviewed actress Julie Harris, who later recommended Van Ark apply to the Yale School of Drama. Harris had been the youngest student to attend the school on scholarship. Van Ark was one of the few students to attend the graduate program without first having earned an undergraduate degree. She attended for only one year. Years later, Harris appeared on Knots Landing as Lilimae Clements, the mother of Valene Ewing, Van Ark's character.[7][8]


Joan Van Ark and Howard Duff in Felony Squad (1968)

Van Ark began her professional career at the Guthrie Theater in Molière's The Miser, opposite Hume Cronyn and Zoe Caldwell. That was followed by Death of a Salesman at the Guthrie with both Cronyn and Jessica Tandy. After a season at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., she was then cast in the national touring company of Barefoot in the Park, directed by Mike Nichols. She recreated the role in the critically acclaimed London Company and later on Broadway. She earned a Theatre World Award[9] and received a Tony nomination[10] in 1971 for her performance in The School for Wives.

After receiving a contract with Universal Studios, Van Ark co-starred with Bette Davis in The Judge and Jake Wyler, a 1972 television pilot that failed to be picked up by NBC. Van Ark was also a regular castmember of the short-lived television sitcoms Temperatures Rising (1972–73) and We've Got Each Other (1977–78). After working for several years in a variety of guest roles on television, she gained her best-known role as Valene Ewing (originally as a one-time guest appearance on Dallas) in 1978. However, writers later worked the character into a couple of additional episodes; she then carried the character over into the long-running spin-off Knots Landing in 1979. She remained with Knots Landing for thirteen of the show's fourteen seasons, leaving in 1992 (although she did return for the series' final episode in May 1993). In the storyline, Valene was married three times to husband Gary Ewing (played in the series by Ted Shackelford), and had two other marriages during the show's run.

During her thirteen seasons on Knots Landing, Van Ark earned two Soap Opera Digest Awards for Best Actress and was nominated a further six times. She also directed two episodes of the series. Van Ark and co-star Michele Lee became good friends while working on the series, mirroring their characters' onscreen friendship. In May 1997, she reprised her role of Valene Ewing in the CBS mini-series, Knots Landing: Back to the Cul-de-Sac, while in December 2005, she appeared in the non-fiction reunion Knots Landing Reunion: Together Again in which she reminisced with the other cast members of the long running CBS television show.

After leaving Knots Landing, she starred in an ill-fated pilot called Spin Doctors, a sitcom for NBC that was not picked up. In addition, she originated the role of Gloria Fisher Abbott on CBS television's The Young and the Restless from 2004–2005, then decided to leave the role and was replaced by Judith Chapman.

Van Ark also appeared Off-Broadway opposite John Rubinstein in Love Letters. She co-starred in the New York production of Edward Albee's Pulitzer Prize winning play Three Tall Women. Her Los Angeles theater credits include Cyrano de Bergerac as Roxanne, as well as Ring Around the Moon, Chemin de Fer, Heartbreak House and As You Like It, for which she won a Los Angeles Drama Critics Award. She appeared as Lady Macbeth in the Grove Shakespeare Festival's production of Macbeth. Van Ark has also starred in the Williamstown Theater Festival productions of The Night of the Iguana, The Legend of Oedipus, and the festival's 40th anniversary production of Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music.

Van Ark has played a variety of guest roles in her career, including episodes of Bonanza, M*A*S*H, The Six Million Dollar Man, Petrocelli, Quincy, Kojak, Barnaby Jones, and Rhoda (in which she played the ex-wife of Rhoda's husband). She appeared in three separate episodes of Medical Center, Cannon and The Rockford Files, and four separate episodes of The Love Boat. In 1978, she also appeared in an episode of Wonder Woman with Ted Shackleford who would later become her onscreen husband Gary Ewing on both Dallas and Knots Landing. Van Ark also performed the voice of Spider-Woman in the short-lived 1979 animated series of the same name. In 1985, she hosted the Tournament of Roses Parade on CBS, which received a Daytime Emmy nomiation for Outstanding Special Class Program.

In April 2001, Van Ark was featured in an episode of the Howard Stern-produced show Son of the Beach as Ima Cummings, the mother of show regular BJ Cummings (played by Jaime Bergman). In 2008, she was reunited with her Knots Landing co-star Donna Mills in an episode of the FX drama series Nip/Tuck. The same year, she also played a network executive in the film Channels.

Van Ark appeared at the TV Land awards in April 2009 where Knots Landing was being honored on its 30 year anniversary. Other Knots Landing actors who were present included Michele Lee, Donna Mills, Kevin Dobson, Ted Shackelford, Lisa Hartman Black, Constance McCashin, Don Murray, and Michelle Phillips, along with Dallas/Knots Landing creator David Jacobs.

In 2011, she performed voice work in an episode of the animated comedy series Archer. In 2013, she reprised her role as Valene Ewing, guest-starring in an episode of the new Dallas series. The same year she also appeared as a guest judge on the Logo series RuPaul's Drag Race.


Van Ark has been married to John Marshall, a former reporter with KNBC-TV, since February 1, 1966. They have one child, voice actress/performer Vanessa Marshall (born October 19, 1969).


1967Run for Your LifeDonna Hayward2 episodes
1968Peyton PlacePaula2 episodes
1969BonanzaAnnie Laurie Adams1 episode
GunsmokeSarah Jean Stryker1 episode
1970Hawaii Five-OFreda Cowan1 episode
Days of Our LivesJanie Whitneyunknown episodes
The Silent ForceEpisode: "A Deadly Game of Love"
1971The Bold Ones: The New DoctorsEvelyn Baker1 episode
1970-1972Love, American StyleAlice2 episodes
1972FrogsKaren Crockett
The Judge and Jake WylerAlicia Dodd
1972-1973Temperatures RisingAnnie Carlisle26 episodes
1974Big Rose: Double TroubleNina
Barnaby JonesSheila Barner1 episode
The Rockford FilesBarbara Kelbaker1 episode
1975The Rules of the GameSilvia Gala
RhodaMarian Gerard1 episode
The Last of the MohicansCora MunroVoice only
1977The Last DinosaurFrancesca 'Frankie' Banks
KojakDetective Jo Lang
1977-1978We've Got Each OtherDee Dee Baldwin13 episodes
1978Quincy M.E.Bert Phillips1 episode
QuarkPrincess Libido2 episodes
Wonder WomanCassandra1 episode
1973-1978M*A*S*HLt. Erika Johnson2 episodes
1979Spider-WomanJessica Drew/Spider-WomanVoice only (16 episodes)
1979-1984The Love BoatDeborah Marshall/Kris Hayley/Mary Sue Huggins4 episodes
1981Red Flag: The Ultimate GameMarie
1988Shakedown on the Sunset StripBrenda Allen
My First LoveClaire Thomas
1990Always Remember I Love YouMartha "Marty" MendhamTV movie
Menu for MurderJulia Alberts
1978-1991DallasValene Ewing8 episodes
1979-1993Knots LandingValene Ewing327 episodes
Soap Opera Digest Award for Outstanding Actress in a Leading Role: Prime Time (1986, 1989)
TV Land Award - Anniversary Award (2009)
Nominated - Soap Opera Digest Award for Outstanding Actress in a Leading Role: Prime Time (1988, 1991)
1993In the Shadows, Someone's WatchingCinnie Merritt
1994Moment of Truth: A Mother's DeceptionNora McGill
1996Touched by an AngelKim Carpenter1 episode
The Fresh Prince of Bel-AirJewel Pemberton1 episode
Santo BugitoAmelia
1997Knots Landing: Back to the Cul-de-SacValene EwingTV mini-series
1998The NannyMargo Lange1 episode
Loyal Opposition: Terror in the White HouseVice President Elizabeth Lane
2000Held for RansomNancy Donavan
2000It's the Pied Piper, Charlie Brown(voice)
2004-2005The Young and the RestlessGloria Abbott54 episodes
2008ChannelsMegan Phillips
2009My Name Is EarlJanine1 episode
2008-2010Nip/TuckAnnette Wainwright2 episodes
2011ArcherRuth1 episode
2012Watercolor PostcardsMomma
2013DallasValene Ewing1 episode


  1. ^ "Staff". Charleston Daily Mail. 2009-06-16. p. 8B. 
  2. ^ Garfield, David (1980). "Appendix: Life Members of The Actors Studio as of January 1980". A Player's Place: The Story of The Actors Studio. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc. p. 280. ISBN 0-02-542650-8. 
  3. ^ Joan Van Ark profile at Yahoo!
  4. ^ The Dutch-American Roots of Joan Van Ark
  5. ^ Joan Van Ark profile at
  6. ^ DAHEF Hall of Fame 1996 profile: Joan Van Ark
  7. ^ a b Seremet, Pat (2006-04-05). "This Joan of Ark is in Town to Worship at Her 'Church'". Hartford Courant. p. D1. 
  8. ^ Triplett, William (2000-06-03). "Actress Joan Van Ark Returns to Her True Love, the Stage". The Washington Post. p. C1. 
  9. ^ Theatre World Award Winners
  10. ^ Tony Awards nominee details

External links[edit]